As the late summer / early fall progresses into full brown season. I still see just a stripe of green (ish) across the middle of this large field of stunted grown grass.
The Pronghorn Herd traversing the grassy field were in a moderate hurry. I find that as a group, they are synergistically more jumpy than a single animal. Even individual mothers with fawns are easier to approach than a herd. If just ONE of the animals doesn’t like what they see… One jumps and all go. Them deciding which is might as well be random. I’m assuming the presence of my truck traveling down the gravel road 400 yards out spooked them. They were running parallel to me, not the other direction. They eventually race to cross the road in front of me as I had to stop to catch this. 4 wheel disk breaks on 35 inch tires stop pretty quickly but the truck takes a few seconds to dampen down the rock back from the stop.
As soon as the truck slowed down, the Pronghorn must have perceived a sign of weakness. They instantly turned to run in front of my truck. I’m thinking they were just showing off. Nothing like being the fastest animal in North America. I’ve clocked them at close to 50 before. Hard to tell exactly. I’m sure someone got one on a radar gun. The official record is 61mph. A cheetah can max out at 80. Good things there are no cheetah’s left in North America after the Megafauna die off after the last ice age. Climate changes in the past…
Speaking of weather: (Like that segue??)😜 Locally, the warmest June or July in a long time. Very dry as well with only .6 inches of rain in June. A lot of the country is a tinderbox as those in California know all too well. Last summer was wet and lush through late August. Wyotana Bi-Polar climate…. Remember that ALL climate is local. The earth has no climate. It has all climates. Multiple personalities as it were….🤔
Grazing as a herd left to right across the landscape of our pasture. Right at our entry cattle gate. We are not a large ranch for this area with many operations 10 times our physical size and cattle capacity. This country is primarily Black Angus Cattle Country. This summer pasture can either be a hay field or eaten down by a herd depending on the year. Ranching on a dry year as this is difficult. Add to that the uncertainty of cattle pricing and this is going to be a rough year for ranchers. We lease a majority of our ground to another who runs cattle here in the summer. Trucking them to their other property for overwinter feeding. Living on a land of many uses as this ranch has been my honor.
The ground the cattle graze on is home to the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship (2nd largest team precision rifle event in North America I have been told…. Just another use… Never took many photos here either…
Then there is: Right under their feet are Dinosaur Fossils. Those along with fossils of a portion of the rest of the fauna alive in the rivers. Sand from those rivers formed the ground here. Derived from those sediments, sand and minerals enable the grass to grow. Mountains west of the BigHorns that are no longer there supplied it. Sand in the form of a 700 foot thick blanket of river sand spread over 5 states and into Canada. Mostly these Dinosaur fossil bearing formations are underground, here it makes the soil the cattle feed over. I’ve actually found Dinosaur bones sitting in the grass up here. Vertebra a foot in diameter kind of fossil bones in the grass. Maybe the Sign in the image should say “Large Livestock”. 😜 📷
The Black Angus Cattle herd out on “open range” were “Watering up” late in the afternoon. This natural spring fed lake watered several hundred cattle at about 30 gallons or more a day per adult. They usually fill their tank then get up the hill to better grass. All here are cows and calves. I doubt there are any bulls in the mix just yet but it won’t be long before it’s that time again.
This is about as green as it has gotten this year. Part of it is this particular area is drier than others but over all it is indeed going to drought. The water is good sweet water with a tad of the cow next to you flavor I suspect as cattle have a pretty tough stomach. If you drink that water though there might be some intestinal ramifications lol.
I drink NO natural waters without ultra fine filtration. THe cheapest way to filter your water is one of the many “straw filters out there). They are inexpensive protection, just don’t let them freeze after their first use. Honestly I haven’t had to resort to using even a stock tank for the 20 years I lived here. I always bring adequate supply in the form of frozen water bottles in an ice chest. I stuff water bottles in every spare crevice of my ATV and truck. This is dry country, almost a desert at 14 inches of rain a year. Carry enough water for 3 days minimum with you is my advice. Being without water is a bad thing…
Brown Season twilight landscapes are always dark, some are more colorful than others. When the veil of clouds is heavy, the shade and hues become muted with the encroaching dusk. Unfettered light causes an entirely different result… here, browns are in full display. I spend a lot of time working twilight skies/landscapes and find them challenging to reproduce accurately. It would be very easy to turn up the sky colors but I’m trying really hard to be a photorealist. This is as close as I can get this to how I experienced the scene. I find that an infinite spectrum of variable twilight exists and are mostly “capturable” with the right gear.
A majority of photographers wouldn’t finish this image I’m thinking. Having said that, I’m all about subtle tones and hues that escape view by most. The cool air of the twilight, the movement of game in the distance, the quickening of the light fleeing the scene is always breathtaking to me. Huge long landscapes (40 miles) make for an appropriate venue for this end of a day capture.. All creatures great and small getting ready for the night are all in their own world. Anticipating the washing away of the brown by spring rains to expose the green that is forthcoming. Seasons change, days come and go, but the animals seen to survive the hardships with an ever optimistic outlook toward the next day and the next meal.
Deer are all about grass seeds.. So is the antique Deering seeder. 😜
There are so many ranch stories from any one particular spot that will never be told or known by the public or for that fact history. Some epic, standard stuff sure and most were. But stories of sweat, toil and hard work by generations of cowboys and cowgirls in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. I look around at all the fence posts set deep in the ground on my ranch, I just shake my head in astonishment at the work. If anyone hasn’t hand dug a post hole, raise your hand, you know who you are .
This is true cowboy country. There is a huge cattle culture in this place complete with the uniforms for such. The both counties my ranch is about have WAY more cattle than people living in an area the size of a small state. Ranches can get large up here, not as big as some of the historic ones though. There are still a few 100000 acre outfits (outfits as they call ranches locally 🙂
This IH/Deering Seed Drill was certainly used in the 1920’s and 30’s maybe into the 40’s. There are several old homesteads from the 20’s (ish) within 3 miles of my place that I know about. Somewhere back then, the owner parked this complex machine meant to drop seeds with some precision into a prepared field. It was the last work it did… Planting Hybrid Grass seed was it’s primary job. I’m not sure what pulled it, maybe both horses early on and then the rancher got a tractor or a WWII surplus Jeep and pulled it with that. Many surplus Jeeps worked fields here in the west during the 40’s and 50’s. So many stories not told….
I even find fragments of historic leather harness “tack” for horse teams here along with the iron skeletons of old 2 seat carriages and abandoned buck wagons here on ranch. (The blacksmithed iron is fantastic.) There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over that century, many things have been put broken items “over the bank” and out of mind.
So the steep/deep gullies near old collapsed sod houses are prime hunting ground for iron antiques, glass bottles etc left over from previous lives. There are even a handful of car/truck skeletons from the 1920’s around and even some in the backcountry. I have a “Small” eclectice collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty AND rusty all 📸
It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 Telescope at 3200mm. The result can be very interesting in the details… This bottom 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red capture… so any color would be artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….It doesn’t happen often enough even up here at 4000 feet in the dark dark westerns skies of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands.
It takes me 6 images at this magnification to stitch together the full moon into one frame. The resultant file is rather large lol. There was very good “seeing” that night. “Seeing” is a term astronomers and amateurs as myself use to describe the atmospheres transparency at any particular time. WHen the moon is straight up, the seeing tends to be better due to the less atmosphere your looking through. I see horribly distorted moons near the horizon where the atmospheric distortions have their way with the transmitted image. Turbulence above me usually blurs the details that this this light let through to my photon capture boxes (cameras).
Pursuit of the moon is a very cyclical thing. If your hunting for details, then you want LONG shadows to accentuate them. Full moons are wonderful of course, generally easy photography but the detail in the craters are elusive. I live very much in tune with the lunar cycle as well as the yearly sun’s migration I photograph both when they present me with opportunity and light worthy of your attention.
Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.
On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.
With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.
This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.
These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….
Here in the borderlands we are part of North America’s “Serengeti” with herds of wild beasties mixed with our domestic stock.
The symmetry of this image totally grabbed my OCD by the short hairs. The jaw hit the floor and I maneuvered around it to ‘get the shot’ lol. There is so much geometry to this composition. Lines, squares arrows, crosses are everywhere. Holy composition Batman…! There so many things lining up in this image. Things don’t normally line up so well for me lolol.
I’d seen the hay bale alignment weeks ago but Imagine my surprise to see three different species in the same photo lined up like soldiers marching across this borderland hay ground (both Montana and Wyoming in this image). Click 🙂 Now if I had elk living here not just passing through lol. Deer to the right, Pronghorn to the left, Angus standing on both sides of the border. Maybe a few eagles on the haybales (I actually photographed a couple of American Eagles fighting high in the sky out in this field a few days ago. Composite in the works for that. Pretty far away though. This is a wonderful area for wildlife.
This field is several miles back away and “over the hill” of the nearest country road. Lots o critters there usually.. There is a 365 days a year running water tank in this pasture which help all the non-migrating critters cope with the winter out there. The next closest water is miles away. I actually have a section of water pipeline running all the way out here from my homestead to provide water to who ever in this pasture. I put in that water line for stock/cattle but available all year for who ever needs it. That was a lot of trenching and a lot of 2 inch PVC pipe over 2 miles at 16 foot a pipe section to assemble (glue) then bury 6 feet down to avoid the freeze… Ranching has a variety of job descriptions lololol.